“Many writers write vexed introspection, or detail-oriented reporting, or counterintuitive cultural commentary, or lifestyle journalism. But so far only Didion has done all four in perfect synthesis, a prose that, at its best, can fire on every cylinder and work on multiple fields of the imagination at once.” In support of the Kickstarter project for the documentary on Joan Didion, We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live, Nathan Heller looks back over Didion’s writing career, her “imaginatively seductive” nonfiction writing and her carefully constructed confessionalism in a piece for Vogue.
Daniel Orozco‘s Orientation collects many of his short stories in one attractive volume. Released last May, the collection features the classic story “Orientation” (Scribd) as well as newer ones such as “Shakers” (Scribd). It garnered enough hype to land him on the long list for this year’s Frank O’Connor Award.
“You should feel embarrassed when what you’re reading was written for children,” Ruth Graham wrote in Slate last week, stirring the proverbial pot of new adult fans of Young Adult bestsellers like The Fault in Our Stars and Eleanor & Park. A host of YA-defenders rose up to shout her down. “You should never be embarrassed by any book you enjoy,” Hillary Kelly responds in The New Republic, unrealistically (we’re embarrassed by quite a lot). For the Washington Post, Alyssa Rosenberg cites examples of worthwhile, complex YA fiction we can certainly support: The Chronicles of Narnia, The Pushcart War, A Wrinkle in Time, and The Westing Game.
Is “the two-person collaboration… the essential creative act”? Joshua Wolf Shenk thinks so, and he’s written a book defending his position, aptly titled The Powers of Two: Finding the Essence of Innovation in Creative Pairs. While John Lennon and Paul McCartney are his primary examples and the root of his argument, famous author duos are also referenced – C.S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien, for one. Shenk even “works to transform even famously lonely figures — Rainer Maria Rilke, Emily Dickinson, Martin Luther King Jr. — into one side of a duet.” Consider us skeptical but intrigued.
“You’re asking if the Race Memoir, the Gender Memoir, or the Sexuality Memoir will survive market trends. I don’t know, but if I put your question in context with Imani Perry’s idea then yes, it will endure. Will it always be ‘trending’? No, but it will endure.” Just one of many great lines from Kima Jones who, along with Terese Marie Mailhot, Meredith Talusan, Ijeoma Oluo, and Kathryn Belden, discusses the current upswing in books on gender and race for Buzzfeed.
Pulitzer Prize-winning author James Alan McPherson has passed away at 72. His anthology Elbow Room won the Pulitzer for fiction in 1978. He was one of the first individuals to receive a genius grant from the MacArthur Foundation. He graduated from Harvard Law school, but instead decided to pursue writing and later earned an MFA from the Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa, where he was a professor emeritus.